Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Land, van, boat and freedom
There's something about being lord of one's own domain that's always attracted me. That “something” has a large element of freedom to it. When younger, for me, that meant having a place of my own. At 16 I had acquired a small lot of land. A couple years later I was able to add to it by buying two and a half adjacent lots. How many teenagers buy land?
It was raw land and at the time it wasn't practical to build something and live on it. Like most folks, I rented for a while. Apartment life was fine, but always in the back of my mind was the knowledge that my home was someone else's property.
The logical next move was to buy a house of my own. With ownership comes more freedom, but there are limits. Most people have to get a mortgage so the bank owns at least some of your place. Even a paid off home is subject to taxes, fees, zoning rules, and other restrictions.
I can understand why some people give up owning property and move into an RV or even a van. The “freedom of the open road,” is heavily romanticized, especially in America. Freedom is somewhat tempered by the reality of licenses, registrations, vehicle loans, and insurance. Then what do you do with your home on wheels?
Travel is the logical thing. Fuel and tolls must be paid, so that puts stress on the budget. At the end of the day, where does the intrepid Road Warrior rest his head? How much will that cost? RV parks have some nice amenities, but aren't cheap. You are basically renting a place to park. People can park for free here and there: parking lots, National Forests, and even some free campgrounds. The big problem with life is on the road is that you have to stay on the road. Unless you are spending money to stay in a private park, there are parking time limits. Eventually you'll be told to move along like a ragity hobo.
My search for freedom brought me to boats. There are requirements like registration, but many boaters choose not to get insurance. Many states don't require the operator to be licensed for boats with smaller motors. The Coast Guard has minimum safety equipment requirements, but that's something prudent people would want anyway for their own safety.
Marinas are a lot like RV parks. They provide a place to stay, electrical and water hookups, and everything from a simple restroom to boater's lounges with wifi, laundry, showers, TVs, libraries, microwaves -you name it. Many people never or rarely stay at marinas. Even in this day and age there are plenty of places where a boat can drop an anchor and stay for free.
So now I find myself at a point in life where we I have the house, the van, and a small sailboat. They all offer different slices of freedom. My home is my castle -a tiny castle in a big kingdom, but a castle none the less. My van allows me the freedom of road travel. The sailboat opens up the freedom of the seas.
At this point in my life, if I had to choose between a house, an RV or a boat, the boat would win. A boat provides the most freedom for the least cost. If that boat happens to be a sailboat travel is about as free as it can get. Unlike a house that stays in one place, or a RV limited to the roads, boats can easily slip over the horizon and appear in a completely different country. How's that for freedom?